Serena Williams has kept her relationship with Alexis Ohanian private over the last two years, but thanks to Vanity Fair, we have learned more about the pair’s love story.
Williams, 35, and Ohanian, 34, are opening up about how they went from knowing nothing about one another (literally) to getting ready to have a baby and walk down the aisle together.
So how did the Reddit co-founder really woo the No. 1 ranked tennis player in the world? Their story is one worth knowing about. Here are 9 things we learned from the Vanity Fair profile.
Their “meet cute” involves rats
Williams and Ohanian met on May 12, 2015, at the Cavalieri Hotel in Rome, Italy. The Champ was in town for the Italian Open, while Ohanian was speaking at a tech conference. They ended up sitting next to each other near the pool for breakfast.
“This big guy comes and he just plops down at the table next to us, and I’m like, ‘Huh! All these tables and he’s sitting here?‘” Serena tells the magazine. For the record, Ohanian maintains that the pool area was “not quite so empty.”
Someone in Williams’s crew tried to get Ohanian away from them, explaining there was a rat by his table and that he wouldn’t want to sit there.
“We were trying to get him to move and get out of there,” Serena said. “He kind of refuses and he looks at us. And he’s like, ‘Is there really a rat here?'”
The first words Williams ever said to him were: “No, we just don’t want you sitting there. We’re going to use that table.”
“I’m from Brooklyn. I see rats all the time,” Ohanian quipped.
When Williams realized he clearly wasn’t afraid of rats, she invited Ohanian to join her group.
Ohanian had “no respect” for tennis before meeting Williams
When the rat conversation was going down, Ohanian was only “98 percent sure” he was talking to Serena Williams. A fan of football and basketball, he admits he “never watched a match on television or in real life.”
9 Things We Learned From Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian’s Love Story
“It was literally the sport — even if ESPN was announcing tennis updates, I would just zone out,” he confesses. “I really had no respect for tennis.”
Luckily, Ohanian kept that to himself and accepted an invitation from the tennis star’s girlfriend to attend the match later that night.
Williams didn’t know what Reddit was
Williams admitted that she knew nothing Ohanian’s world either — but she didn’t let him know that right away. During the same conversation, she pretended she had been on Reddit earlier that day.
“Oh, were you? What do you like about it?” he asked.
Serena gave a very long “Wellllll … ” and was saved by friends who jumped in. She eventually veered the conversation towards her website and whether she should have an app.
“This is an interesting, charming, beautiful woman,” Alexis recalled thinking.
Williams gave him her number so he could “give some feedback” on her site (sure); however, he had just gotten out of a 5-year relationship and wasn’t thinking about anything romantic… yet.
Their first date was in Paris
Later that month, Williams texted Ohanian to meet her in Paris and come watch her at the French Open. He accepted, but said he tried not to read too much into the invitation.
“Even if she blows me off and we don’t even hang out, I’m still going to have an amazing time in Paris, and I’ll have an even better story for all my childhood friends when I was like, ‘Yeah, I went to Paris for a weekend,” he said. “I was supposed to meet up with Serena Williams, she blew me off, but I’ve got other friends there, and we had a great time.'”
However, the pair ended up strolling around the City of Love, taking in the sights and having an impressive 6-hour first date.
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